Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Perry March

Family Matters

March did not testify in his own defense, but he did take the stand out of the presence of the jury to ask that his son be excused from testifying. With an oddly cheerful demeanor, March told the court that the boy had spent far too much time in courtrooms over the years, and he hoped that 15-year-old Sammy could be spared the ordeal of testimony and cross-examination. March's request was taken under consideration, and the prosecution chose to show the jury a videotaped interview of 9-year old Sammy with a television journalist from 2001. In this interview Sammy states that on the night that his mother had left home, she came into his bedroom and kissed him good-bye. "She told me she'd be back soon," he said, "then took her two bags and left."

But in a police interview conducted in the weeks after Janet's disappearance in 1996, Sammy told investigators that he woke up the next morning to find his mother missing. Sammy's kindergarten teacher Kim Scott testified that he had told her that he was upset in school because "he did not get to say good-bye to her [his mother] before she left." And Ralla Klepak, Sammy's court-appointed attorney from Chicago in the custody battle between his father and grandparents, testified that Sammy never told her anything about his mother kissing him good-bye. Jurors were left wondering if March had coached his son for the television interview, or if perhaps over the years March had convinced Sammy that he had seen his mother alive on the night she disappeared.

But without a doubt the most damaging witness against March was his own father. Arthur March, 78, was too sick to travel from the Kentucky prison where he was incarcerated, but the prosecution presented a three-hour videotape of his testimony. In it, he described how he had traveled to Nashville from Mexico to help his son with the children after Janet March had disappeared and wound up becoming Perry's accomplice. Angry, vitriolic, and at times vocally anti-Semitic in his testimony, Arthur March said that Perry had told him Janet was dead and that it had been an "accident." Arthur also admitted to helping his son clean bloodstains in the house and disposing of the hard drive from Perry's computer before the house was searched. He referred to the police who conducted the search as "Gestapo storm troopers."

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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